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Larry Scott Workout Review: How To Build 20-Inch Arms28/10/2021
If there is one thing every bloke who walks into the gym wants, it’s bigger biceps.
During my late teens, I would spend countless hours online rummaging through clickbait articles trying to find the ‘best’ muscle-building routine for arms that would spin the ladies head and make them hot and bothered (mostly bothered) when you as so much breathed near them.
To my dismay,
Such plans were often being flogged by soy-faced, roid-raging imbeciles whose batshit programmes were just about as helpful as simultaneous epidemics of famine and obesity.
How was I meant to build mountainous, sleeve-hugging biceps now?
One only needed to go back even further (to the mid-1960s to be exact) to notice that such arms were being donned by one of bodybuilding’s true superstars, awing crowds and garnering attention wherever he walked.
That man was none other than Larry Scott.
Combining a likeable and affable persona with colossal 20-inch arms, bulging deltoids and a huge beer-barrel chest, Larry Scott personified the complete physique.
In this article, we will be covering one of his foundational arm routines that would help him clinch numerous bodybuilding titles and go down in history as one of the greatest bodybuilders to have ever graced the stage.
But first, who was Larry Scott?
Who is Larry Scott?
Larry Scott, nicknamed ‘The Golden Boy’ and ‘The Legend’ was an American bodybuilder who won the inaugural Mr. Olympia competition in 1965 and again in 1966 before retiring.
Following his retirement, Scott continued to popularise the sport of bodybuilding around the world.
He would work as a physique model and personal trainer where his clean-cut, all-American image would land him on the front cover of many popular health and fitness magazines.
Later, he would go on to amass an impressive catalogue of books, interviews and magazine articles that would inspire the next generation of bodybuilders including Arnold Schwarzenegger and Frank Zane.
Despite going down in history as one of the greatest bodybuilders to have ever lived, Scott possessed very little genetic potential when he first started training with weights in the 50s, with his narrow shoulders having been a particular weak area.
Later in his career, Scott would seek training advice from Vince Gironda, another well-known bodybuilder and personal trainer during the ‘Golden Era’ of bodybuilding (and someone we’ve covered extensively at CheckMeowt).
Under Gironda’s tutelage, Scott became famous for his fantastic arm development, particularly his impressive and unusually long biceps with his arms spanning 20-inches in size – something unseen and unheard of during the 60s.
This development did not come overnight and the exact workout Scott used in the early days of developing his arms was documented in his booklet called: ‘How I Built My 20-Inch Arms’ which we will be covering in more detail.
Larry Scott’s arm workout is a basic arm routine designed to increase the size and strength of the arms.
It is split into 2 separate workouts, with workout 1 (the primary routine), focused on developing muscle mass and size whilst workout 2 is focused more on definition and shaping of the arms.
Scott stresses that workout 2 is to only be used once workout 1 grows stale or when you begin to plateau.
This routine will flip your entire arm day upside down and leave your biceps ripping the sleeves off your shirt after one cycle.
Larry Scott Workout: How To Build 20-Inch Arms
|Barbell Curls||3||8 – 10|
|Incline Dumbbell Curl||4||8|
|Reverse Barbell Curl||3||10|
|Standing Triceps (French) Press||4||10|
|Incline Barbell Triceps Press||3 – 4||8|
|Lying Dumbbell Press||4||10 – 12|
|Flat Bench Dumbbell Curl||5||10|
|Bent Over Barbell Concentration Curl||3||10 – 12|
|Dumbbell Kickbacks||4||10 – 12|
Larry Scott’s workout to develop 20-inch arms is a timeless arm routine embedded in the ‘Golden Era’ of bodybuilding.
Despite being a ‘first generation’ steroid user in the 60s, this routine is still perfect for the beginner and intermediate lifter who wants to blow up their arms completely drug-free.
Whilst not being blessed with superior genetics, Scott’s robust arm routine allowed him to go on to develop impressively thick biceps and ridiculously defined horse shoe triceps.
At first glance:
His 20-inch arms routine is nothing spectacular by today’s standards, with popular exercises such as barbell curls, reverse barbell curls and lying dumbbell press all performed regularly within the 8 to 12 rep range across 3 to 4 sets.
Scott was a firm believer in targeting the arms from many different angles and included exercises such as the flat bench dumbbell curl, bent over barbell concentration curl and barbell kickbacks that are not performed in many gyms today.
When speaking about the flat bench dumbbell curl, Scott mentions:
“Even though this is one of the very best exercises for the lower biceps that exists, I think I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of fellows I have seen do it. I picked it up from Lou Degni, and have used it ever since.”
It was these exercises in particular that Scott attributed to giving him his well-rounded arms.
If that wasn’t enough:
When explaining barbell kickbacks in his booklet, he also states:
“I stole this movement from George Payne’s routine, and if you can show me anyone with better definition in this area I’ll give you an inch off my arm!”
As a 2x Mr. Olympia, I know I’d much prefer taking bodybuilding advice from Larry Scott than your typical self-obsessed, steroid-abusing ‘fitness influencer’ who has as many titles to his name as the half a brain cell he possesses.
Larry Scott’s arm workout is to be performed for a minimum for 3 days a week for 8 weeks.
As mentioned earlier, workout 1 is designed to promote size and strength of the arms, whilst workout 2 is focused more on shape and definition.
Scott prescribes sticking to workout 1 for as long as you continue to make some formidable gains. If, however, the training plan begins to grow stale, you should begin moving on to workout 2.
He also recommends performing these routines at the end of your workout before you leave the gym and suggests incorporating it as part of a split routine program (i.e. upper body and arms on one day and lower body the next) as each workout is extra heavy.
Thus, performing this routine on non-consecutive days (e.g. Monday, Wednesday, Friday) would be the most optimal.
In order to continue making progress on this routine, Scott recommends typically adding an additional set to each exercise after 1 month to avoid plateauing.
Additionally, for every exercise that you can comfortably perform the required reps on each set, Scott also recommends increasing the weight when you’re also increasing the number of sets performed.
A good starting place to increase the poundage is to add an extra 2.5kg/5lbs on to each side of the bar.
Gradual progression is key if you really want to develop improve the size, strength and definition of your arms. It is a good idea to journal your workout each time (exercise, sets, reps, poundage) in order to systematically improve your results.
Scott prescribes performing partial reps (what he calls ‘burns’) at the end of a set to really encourage muscle growth.
This simply involves performing only half of the movement when you’re unable to perform a complete rep of an exercise.
This has the effect of increasing more blood flow into the working muscle and breaks down the muscle tissue at different ranges of the movement to ensure that it is nigh on impossible to complete the movement at any range (i.e. the shortening and lengthening phase of the muscle during the lift).
“This is a relatively new bodybuilding method that has been coming into vogue recently. It can be used on most exercises, especially arms, and is simply partial movements at the end of a set.
At that time your muscle is too tired to do another complete rep, so you substitute burns until your muscles begin to ache from lack of oxygen. This aching, burning sensation is responsible for the name of the principle, and will give you added desirable muscle qualities when applied properly.
To the novice this may sound like a lot of nonsense, but this is the proven way to build muscle, proven by me and a lot of good bodybuilders of the past. Follow the exercise advice strictly as prescribed and save your skepticism for other things.“
Larry Scott advises the following when performing barbell curls:
“In your training you should handle all the weight you can while still maintaining good form.
Hold the bar with the knuckle side of the hands just outside the thighs, and curl the weight up until the bar reaches your chin. Then lower the bar with the same deliberation that you raised it with, completely extending the arms.”
He recommends that you should begin with 3 sets of 8 to reps with a moderate weight for at least a week or two. Then you should begin increasing the poundage thereafter as often as you can whilst still maintaining good form.
Adding a total of 5kg (11lbs) to the bar where possible is a good place to start.
For the fist month, stick with 3 sets and thereafter, increase this to 4 whilst sticking to the same number of repetitions (with the additional poundage added).
Incline Dumbbell Curl
Larry Scott’s key takeaway for this exercise is as follows:
“The dumbbells are to be raised only up to the point where gravity takes the strain off the biceps and the dumbbells want to fall back to the shoulders. Slowly lower the weights until the arms are fully extended again, and be extra sure to keep the palms up all the time and keep the wrist so the inside of the palm is level with the outside. Don’t let the dumbbell pressure turn the wrists in.
This tip will enable you to keep the strain on the belly of the muscle, and will make the difference between good gains and none at all. There is generally one key point in any exercise that will make the difference between it being a good one and a bad one.
In this case it is the palm position, so keep this in mind every time you do your curls.”
Begin by performing this exercise for 4 sets of 8 reps with a weight that will allow you to complete the movement with good form.
Ensure you keep adding poundage to the dumbbells over time and increase the number of sets to 5 after a month whilst keeping the reps the same.
Reverse Barbell Curl
Perform 3 sets of 10 reps using a moderate weight and keep this the same after one month.
Ensure you use good technique and avoid adding excessive weight onto the bar unless this exercise is beneficial for you.
Standing Triceps (French) Press
For this exercise, Larry Scott notes:
“This is an excellent movement for bulking up the long head, or underbelly of the triceps. The hands should be about six inches apart and the elbows held as high as possible. And, keep them in this position throughout the movement while also keeping your body perfectly straight.
To use sloppy form and move around will only be cheating yourself of gains in the end.”
Start off performing this exercise for 4 sets of 10 reps and increase the poundage as often as possible (adding 5kg/11lbs onto the bar each time).
After one month, increase the number of sets to 5 and begin experimenting with 8 or 10 reps. Use whichever reps gives you the best overall pump.
Incline Barbell Triceps Press
When performing this movement, Larry Scott instructs:
“Hold the bar so that only an inch or so is between the hands, and again keep your elbows absolutely still. As in most triceps movements aimed at bodybuilding, if you move the elbows the stress of the movement is transferred from the triceps to the deltoids.
Press the bar directly overhead, keeping it on a plane right above the eyes throughout the movement. Make sure to lock out completely, and lower the bar slowly, again keeping equal stress on the downward trip as well as the upward one.”
Start off with 3 to 4 sets of 8 reps. Larry Scott notes that the increase in strength in the triceps as a result of this exercise is vast so be sure to keep adding poundage to the bar as frequently as possible.
However, this exercise can cause elbow discomfort for some, so it’s always important to keep an eye on this and only move to 5 sets at the end of the month if you are able to do so.
Lying Dumbbell Press
When performing this exercise, it is important to keep the elbows straight up (pointing to the ceiling) and the dumbbells in a fixed parallel position.
Extend your arms out with the dumbbells until they are fully locked out and lower them in a slow, controlled fashion whilst keeping the tension on the triceps.
Larry Scott notes:
“By now your triceps are getting pretty tired, so a little cheat will be allowed in this movement. JUST A LITTLE!”
Flat Bench Dumbbell Curl
This exercise is rarely performed in the gyms of today, but is arguably one of the best exercises you can perform for the lower biceps.
When performing this movement, the bench must be high enough to ensure the dumbbells do not touch the floor when your arms are lowered. With your elbows pointed in towards the hip, slowly lift the weights up until the tension in your biceps begin to ease, then lower the weights again.
It is important that you keep your elbows pointed in throughout the entire movement and your palms remain flat without rotating inward for maximum effect.
Perform this exercise for 5 sets of 10 reps. After one month, increase the number of sets to 6 whilst keeping the reps at 10. Try and increase the poundage wherever possible too
Bent Over Barbell Concentration Curl
With your upper body bent over, hold a barbell with your hands roughly 6 inches to shoulder-width apart and curl the bar up to your nose whilst keeping your elbows pressed into your quads.
When lowering the weight, you don’t need to extend your elbows all the way down, just ensure you reach a point where the tension on your biceps begin to ease and repeat.
Scott argues that this is one of few exercises where one really needs to apply mind-muscle connection in order to fully benefit from this movement.
Get your mind into the biceps and control every single rep thinking of the blood surging into the muscle fibers and making the biceps grow.
Perform at least 3 sets of 10 to 12 reps for this exercise. After one month, look to increase the sets performed to 4 or 5.
Scott liked to perform this exercise by making is upper body parallel to the floor and using a bench to place his non-working hand on for better stability and form.
From a hanging position, bring your forearm up until your tricep contracts behind you and you cannot extend your arm up any further.
Ensure you are bringing the weight up with a little push, avoiding swinging and that your arm is fully extended at the elbow. This is the key point of the movement that will determine whether you will make gains or not.
Larry Scott notes:
“This movement will not produce great size in the triceps, but will help to carve out an impressive hardened look in the horseshoe part of the muscle.
This has long been my favorite exercise, for the triceps can be developed with it so it can be seen to full advantage while just hanging at the side.
In other words, there’s no need to go around flexed, the triceps when developed properly can look breathtaking just hanging relaxed!”
This exercise is to be performed with a minimum of 4 sets of 10 to 12 reps. After 3 – 4 weeks, look to increase the number of sets whilst keeping your reps the same and also concentrating on the movement.
This exercise is performed in a similar fashion to the dumbbell kickback, only with a barbell.
Hold the barbell behind you with your palms facing away and with the bar slightly touching your lower body. The movement is performed by acting as if you are going to throw the bar away from behind you which will require fully extending both arms.
Hold the contraction behind you for a count of 5, then let it slowly return to the lower body.
Larry Scott states:
“This is a finishing off movement, purely for development at the juncture of the triceps heads, the horseshoe area. Is range is very limited and the exercise is almost all cramp.”
Repeat this movement for 4 sets of 6 reps, and keep this system up whenever you use this exercise.
As a natural ‘hard gainer’, earlier in his bodybuilding career, Scott took nutritional advice from his mentor Rheo Blair who owned the largest and most popular supplement line at the time: ‘Blair’s Protein’.
Blair advised Scott that “you need maximum nutrition to achieve maximum results” and that “everything is chemical”.
By following Blair’s advice to a tee, Scott attributed 80% of his success to the Blair’s nutritional program.
Like Vince Gironda, Larry Scott was advised to focus on a high-protein, low fat and low carb diet (consuming no more than 50g of carbs a day).
His diet primarily consisted of:
- Three eggs throughout the day
- Lean meat and cottage cheese x3 (breakfast, lunch and dinner)
- One cup of cream and milk each mixed with two-thirds cup of Blair’s protein powder x3
Anything made of sugar or flour was excluded in his diet alongside fruits/fruit juices and other high-carb foods (potatoes, rice, beans, pasta, alcohol) as well.
In other words,
Vince Gironda was Larry Scott’s coach throughout his peak training years so Scott was also greatly influenced by his teachings too.
On top of the above foods, Scott frequently took some additional, Blair-approved supplements to support his muscle-building requirements.
- Desiccated beef liver capsules
- Hydrochloric acid capsules
- Blair B Complex capsules
- Amino acid capsules
During contest preparation, Scott would be taking over 100 capsules a day of the above vitamins and minerals.
By today’s standards, taking over 100 capsules daily is a surefire way to cause issues, so be sure you are following the recommended doses displayed on the packaging of any supplement.
It goes without saying:
Aim to get at least 7-9 hours uninterrupted sleep every night in order for your muscles to maximise your body’s recuperative powers and channeling hormone release into muscle repair and growth.
Avoid high impact activities during your recovery days.
Larry Scott’s workout for building 20-inch arms is a simple and effective routine for building neck breaking arms.
Consisting of 21 – 22 sets in workout 1 and 16 sets in workout 2 which will continue to increase as the months go on, makes it an ideal workout for both beginners and intermediates.
Because this plan is very simplistic in it’s nature, it is easy to plateau once your arms begin to get accustomed to the exercises, sets, reps and poundage.
Progressive overload is a key component of this plan to ensure you continue to push the limit and avoid getting into a rut.
As Larry Scott prescribes performing either of these routines at the end of each workout, I felt it made each workout far more effective (especially after performing full-body routines) as my arms were already slightly fatigued from most of the compound movements.
This then allowed me to really dive into the working muscle on each exercise to completely fatigue my biceps, triceps and forearms making the pump unreal and just making me feel like a complete badass.
After a few weeks of doing this, I noticed more of a peak developing on my biceps (the flat bench dumbbell curl gave me an unbelievable burn each and every time) and my triceps really developed a more defined horse shoe shape with the barbell kickbacks being a great exercise in particular.
I would not dedicate a single day just to perform these workouts.
I tried this myself a few times and just felt like it wasn’t the best use of time, nor did it allow me to experience any real lasting effects as my arms were not pre-fatigued (and also because I’ve been lifting for a few years now).
I felt like my arms were more inclined to grow after performing a few sets of heavy compound movements such as squats and deadlifts prior to either of the arm routines as these exercises in themselves are great at releasing HGH (human growth hormone).
With all that excess flowing through the body due to the level of intensity and energy used in those movements, it will naturally benefit the arms too.
Larry Scott’s workout for 20-inch arms is a great training plan to follow to really ramp up development in this area and is arguably one of the best arm routines I’ve ever come across.
Larry Scott’s arm workout is an excellent routine to increase mass and definition of the arms.
If you think simply going through the motions of each exercise will result in any noticeable difference, you’re in for a rude awakening.
There’s no denying that Larry Scott’s real secret was good old-fashioned hard work.
With that said,
Understanding Larry Scott’s closing remarks will make all the difference as to whether you will develop arms even Popeye the Sailor Man would be envious of:
“You must attack your workouts with vigor and enthusiasm. Remember, the biggest obstacle in the path of every bodybuilder is indifference.
You must motivate yourself every workout, think of the exercises you are doing and how you are going to do them better than last time. You must push ahead, keep on the path to progress and avoid those old demon stale periods.
If you approach your training with these thoughts in mind, nothing can keep you from obtaining results.
Most of all, don’t listen to discouraging or disparaging remarks… I got them by the bucketful, but I said the heck with them.
I made up my mind that I could do it, and I did. So can you. You can and will improve. But no one can do it for you; you must hit those weights yourself.”
What Do You Think?
Have you tried this routine or are thinking of giving it a go?
Have any questions or comments?
Let us know in the comments section below!
Joseph is the Founder and Editor in Chief of CheckMeowt. When he is not sat at the computer guzzling down the nearest thing with protein in it, he can be found pulling up the world in the gym. Occasionally, he is best described as socially unreliable and easily distracte.